Wedding planning advice from expert David Tutera


words & photography by Stacey L. Evans

This year’s trends>>In 2016, expect to see an infusion of warmer, pastel tones, as well as more glamour in dresses and decor, said Tutera. More couples are also opting to have the ceremony and reception in the same venue, and the DIY trend is here to stay.

Tutera, who has his own line of do-it-yourself crafts, said he loves DIY because it’s a way for couples to add a personal touch to their special day.

Individually-made wedding favors are always a hit with guests — think homemade treats, handmade soaps or mixtapes. But it can be a time-consuming task.

If you have limited time (or lack creative skills) consider creating only one décor item for the reception, or adding a simple element to centerpieces — such as lace, buttons, burlap or twine to a candle or vase.

Creating an escort board to use instead of cards is a trend that’s catching on.

“It’s a great project for a bride because you can start in advance, even before you know who your guests are,” Tutera said.

How to choose a wedding planner>>DIY is fun, but you don’t want to do it all yourself, of course. Big occasions demand the help of a seasoned professional. So how do you find the one that’s right for you?

It can be difficult to vet a wedding planner, Tutera said. While a planner may work miracles for one couple, their style and personality may clash with yours. When interviewing, you should always ask for references, but the most important thing is to have a connection — find a wedding planner who understands you.

“If the potential wedding planner is dictating to you what they think you should do for your wedding, that is a red flag not to hire them,” Tutera said.

Your wedding planner should provide direction or advice when necessary, but he/she shouldn’t be telling you what’s wrong or right. Remember it is your wedding. You’re allowed to have what makes you happy and no one — not your mother-in-law, not Auntie Negative Nancy and especially not your wedding planner — should be getting in the way of your dreams (exceptions of course, if you are blowing your budget or your inner Bridezilla has taken your reasonable thoughts hostage).

“In essence, your wedding planner is truly becoming your best friend, your mentor, your mediator, your voice to the vendors,” Tutera said. “They really have to get you. If you sense the person doesn’t have the right style and isn’t adaptable, move on to the next interview.”

You’ve chosen a planner, now what?>>To Pinterest or not to Pinterest, that is the question. Ohhhh those bite-size tuxedo cakes are a must! And those vintage keys as escort cards, what a clever idea! But wait, look at these table numbers on sand dollars! OMG, should we have a Rice Krispies wedding cake?

Too often, couples look at so many other ideas rather than taking time to think about what they really like. As a result, they end up being disconnected from what they really want, and have mismatched ideas that are all over the place.

“So my job now is to find a needle in the haystack,” Tutera said. “It’s like sifting through the sand to find one thing that makes sense.”

If you don’t immediately have a pretty clear idea of what you want for your wedding, do yourself a favor and don’t fall down the infinite Pinterest rabbit hole. It will only overwhelm you. Instead, sit down with your significant other to discuss what you both want. Write it down.

“Couples need to focus their idea and fine-tune the direction,” Tutera said.

First, choose three colors: a primary, an accent and a buffer, Tutera said. Then choose a style — it doesn’t have to be a theme, it may simply be ‘country’ or ‘glamour.’

And then you can roam the World Wide Web for a more focused search base. And remember, once you have the basic concept, your team of vendors can help you shape the vision.

You’re set with your vision for the day. But you want to make sure it’s an unforgettable day for your guests as well. What’s the one thing you should spend money on to ensure guests have a good time?>>Music. It makes the people come together, so says Madonna.

“You can spend tons of money on everything else, but if you have bad music, you’ve got a dead party,” Tutera said.

When planning, people tend to concentrate on the playlist. But it’s more important to choose the right band or DJ that will bring the energy you want to the party.

“Ask, will this band pull off what I need? Will this DJ be one that speaks the whole time, or will I have someone that spins great music and reads my guests?” Tutera said.

Steal this idea!
Wedding blogger Jen Carreiro shared her fun and creative idea for a bridal shower or bachelorette party — a DIY nail polish bar. Everyone in the bridal party creates their own unique polish to wear on the day of the wedding. It’s a fun, interactive activity and the bridesmaids will have a gift to take away, along with the memories. Plus, it will make the wedding day even more personalized and special. Get more ideas from Carreiro at Nail polish supplies are available at

Upcoming show
Sunday, June 12 at Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. Expect 100+ vendors with giveaways, discounts, tips, food samples and design ideas, along with a bridal fashion catwalk and chance to meet David Tutera. Find out more at


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